A project set up at the beginning of the 2020 lockdown, “World’s Pandemic Chronicles” gathers 33 stories from around the world. In this video, I’m introducing Takahiro Hatake from Tokyo, Japan, who participated in this book with a 14-day diary.
“I am a terrorist”, my favorite poem from “Kora” by Tibetan writer Tenzin Tsundue
Are you looking for happiness? Well, you won’t find it in this world because The World of Humans is one of the six hells described in the “Tibetan Book of the Dead”, nicely named The Six Realms of Existence.
We must have done something bad in our previous lifes if we pass through this realm of existence… The good news is that in Buddhism it is believed that we can escape any hell.
The Six Realms of Existence
The six realms are worlds of suffering governed by the Law of Karma and where the cycle of birth, life, and death is fully at work.
Since the consciousness of the dead person now possesses a “radiant body” and is equipped with the power of seeing the future, it can now perceive these realms one by one. The six realms of existence are the Deva realm, the Asura realm (jealous gods), the Human realm, the Animal realm, the Preta realm (hungry ghosts), and the World of Hells.
The Buddhists believe that as long as sentient beings are attached to the world of suffering due to ignorance, hatred, and greed, it is impossible to be free from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Because of this, Avalokitesvara appears in the six realms, in the form of the Six Buddhas described in the Chonyid Bardo, to teach the path of Wisdom and Enlightenment.
The Deva Realm (the realm of the gods)
The Deva or Gods’ realm is a world of enjoyment and pleasure. One can see delightful temples and mansions built of different kinds of precious metals upon entering this realm. Avalokitesvara appears in the Gods’ realm as the Buddha brGya-byin who carries a melodious lute in his hands. He teaches that it is improper for the beings to be proud of their joyful existence in this place because their stay here is based upon good karmic deeds and must at some point come to an end. However, if one is to be born as a Deva, one is permitted to enter this realm.
The Asura Realm (the realm of the jealous Gods)
The Asura realm is a world of fighting or strife. One can see either a charming forest or circles of fire revolving in opposite directions upon entering this realm. In the Asura realm, there is great envy among the Gods over the fruits of the tree of knowledge. Avalokitesvara appears here as the Buddha Thag-bzang-ris in a knight’s armor while carrying a sword to settle the envy-inspired fighting. The Buddha teaches the titans the perfection of moral education, in order to overcome divisive envy. In the death ritual, one is not advised to enter this realm.
The Human Realm
The Human realm is where you are now, unless if you believe you’re in a different World of Existence. According to tradition, Avalokitesvara took the form of Buddha Sakyamuni by incarnating as Gautama Buddha (the historical Buddha). His symbol is the alms bowl and a beggar’s staff.
In our world, Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-fold Path so that we may overcome the three most powerful forces that govern each of our lives: ignorance, greed, and hatred.
The Animal Realm
The Animal realm is a world that lacks reason. For those who are to be born amongst animals, rock caverns, deep holes in the earth mists will be seen. One is not advised to enter this realm. In the world of Animals who live in ignorance and stupidity, Avalokitesvara appears as Buddha Seng-ge rab-brtan who carries the book of wisdom. He teaches the animals to overcome ignorance by striving after the perfection of knowledge.
The Preta Realm (the realm of hungry ghosts)
The Preta realm is a world of avarice and greed inhabited by beings that experience an extreme degree of hunger and thirst. They are called Pretas or hungry ghosts. One who is destined to be born as a Preta will see desolate treeless plains, shallow caverns, jungle glades, and forest wastes. Avalokitesvara appears in the Preta realm as the Buddha Kha-‘bar-ma who teaches the perfection of generosity. The dead person is instructed to exert the greatest amount of energy to avoid entering this realm.
The World of Hells
The World of Hells is the realm of extreme suffering and the place of retribution for the vices of anger and hatred. One who is to fall into the World of Hells may hear wailings of tormented people, black houses, and lands of gloom. It is also here where one suffers the intolerable pains of heat and cold. Avalokitesvara appears in the World of Hells as the Buddha Dharma-Raja (described earlier) and carries water and fire to alleviate the sufferings of the beings tormented by heat and cold. In order that the denizens of hell may overcome the opposites of passionate hatred, the Dharma-Raja teaches them the perfection of equanimity. The dead person is also instructed to exert the greatest amount of energy to avoid entering this realm.
However, you must know that at the moment of our death we experience a state of extreme happiness. In order to be able to take advantages of that unique moment and be capable to avoid the entering in one of the six hells, we have to train our happiness in advance, otherwise, we won’t be able to cope with that state of mind and we’ll run to reincarnate again and again… For whatever reason you want to train your happiness, either to enjoy it while you live or to be well prepared for a favorable incarnation or liberation from the circles of life and death, you’d better start now.
When the global lockdown began, we started a project. Today, we have a book. Writers from different corners of the world joined this idea and together we made our quarantine time useful. You will read 33 impressive quarantine stories written by isolated humans. You will see that our hopes, fears, activities are similar whether you live in the United States, France, UK, India, New Zealand, Egypt, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Greece, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, or Romania. The English Version of ‘World’s Pandemic Chronicles’ is available on Amazon, in both formats, eBook and Paperback.
We, the team, hope that you will like it.
The Year of 2020. For the first time in history, we live together a Global Pandemic. The outbreak of the Coronavirus locked us all in our houses for months. We chose to write. Nana Iavorsky Cnejevici, Istanbul, Turkey, Olga Bălan, Rome, Italy, Andra Ticărău, Bucharest, Romania, Dragoș Pop, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Michelle Macias, Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico, Ramona Dumitrean, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Alina Orășanu, Boston, USA, Santiago Chirino, Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico, Acna Samskiescu, London, UK, Dan Mecu, Brăila, Romania, Mihaela Maier, Scarborough, UK, Kunal Rajput, New Delhi, India, Bianca Opriș, Brussels, Belgium, Mihaela Gaicu, Bucharest, Romania, George Smarandache, Slatina, Romania, Sandie Michaels, Bucharest, Romania, Claudiu Neacșu, Tecuci, Romania, Sabina Hesse, Los Angeles, USA, Michael Angus, New York, USA, Mihaela Stoica, Siena, Italy, Serban Hesse, Nurnberg, Germany, Lucia Lobonț, Bucharest, Romania, Max Petropoulos, Athens, Greece, Livia Negulescu, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Zaid Khan, Agra India, Lucia Davis, Auckland, New Zealand, Cornel Nemeș, Reno, Nevada, USA, Tenzin Tsundue, Dharamshala, India, Sandra Sanada, Bucharest, Romania, Takahiro Hatake, Tokyo, Japan, Asmaa Arafa, Cairo, Egypt, Mihai Ivanof, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monica Loloiu, Bucharest, Romania, Bruno Carrier, Paris, France
We are all into this! 33 Isolated Humans from around the Globe, 33 Authentic Quarantine Stories. Don’t miss the “World’s Pandemic Chronicles” The diary of each of us!
The eBook version of the “World’s Pandemic Chronicles” is available in Pre-Sale on Amazon. Buy it now and you’ll receive it on September 10
We have emotions as we have limbs. The emotions are just a few more than our limbs which are only four. We need to use them all in order to keep them functional. Sometimes we walk and use our legs keeping them fit. Other times we cook, exercising our hands’ abilities. Our emotions need workout and building exercises, too. There was a time when I needed to practice jealousy and times when I had to feel hatred so that these emotions remained functional for my enjoyment or simply to be able to recognize them when I saw them in others. Luckily, I never said no to any of them and eventually, I arrived in a beautiful moment when I needed to practice love.
Love is that force of the Universe we don’t fully understand yet said a character in my favorite film, “Interstellar”. It is a force that certainly challenges and transforms us.
When love visits me, I feel sick. Everything becomes confused and my body starts shaking, I have headaches, muscular pain, fever, and I cannot sleep well. The days pass extremely slowly, I don’t eat, yet I’m full of energy. I consider this feeling resembling a virus. If we think about, love acts very similarly to common flu. I always live love in extreme and for weeks I can hardly control my body or my mind. After a while, I regain my balance and I feel completely reset.
Love charges me and when I feel it, I start to believe in God, in spirits and entities, in the possibility of the fact that maybe we are driven, invested, directed. Love is absolutely magic and every time I feel it it’s like the first time. I can swear it’s for the first time I’m truly in love and I honestly think it’s for the last time. I’m so happy and I believe that all I’ve done in life was to prepare me for the love I currently live. Every time it’s unique, the most special and the reason I was born for and apparently things finally make sense. In these moments, I found myself restless, with a huge desire of getting to the result, willing to jump over proper training. The first encounter with the person I love is so strong that I feel like dying and repeatedly, I have the same thoughts. How could aliens or angels contact us when it is so difficult for us to get used to the presence of another human being? We’d die!
My love found a frame, a circumstance, and of course, a screen on which to be projected. But who is this person and what story does he carry so that I chose him and invested him to be the bearer of my love? The answer is less important and his story does nothing else than to reflect my projection. I simply love him and I need to manifest this love as others feel the need to manifest compassion, hatred, or jealousy. So, I hooked my love on him but as well, I could have hooked it to a nail inserted into the wall. My main emotion has always been love, which can be a burden as any other feeling and the person that is projected on must carry it as well.
It’s all about projections and as some people cripple others in order to have the right material to practice compassion, I enhance his being, imagine him more handsome, more intelligent, funnier than he is in order to have a screen for my huge love. In my eyes, he becomes the most perfect being on Earth. It is the way I see everything, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to bear the reality or I should be on drugs in order to live. So, love is a drug that improves the reality. I may say that every feeling could be considered a painkiller or a drug, a way to cope with reality. I want the reality to be ideal, beautiful, joyful. I want the future to be bright, I want to see the good things, to find the possibilities and avoid the evil, the problems, the negative outcomes. All in all, I want to avoid death. The death of hope, the death of his beauty. I enhance it every day so his beauty will be even stronger tomorrow, his eyes will shine twice as much and his smile will be an endless joy for me, the one who practices love.
This short meditation on love has a lot to do with my novel, “The Training of Joy”. The characters are prone to the extreme and when they experiment with emotions, they usually do it in extreme and have a reason for it.
“We call upon all forms of human emotions: fear, wrath, anger, compassion, hatred, or, like you said, love, and extreme desire. It’s our trait because we live at high altitudes… Anyway, you’ve talked a lot about emotions. Enabling emotions in the extreme is a way of accelerating the initiatory act. The intensity of emotions releases energies which lead to the unification of psychic impulses, and in this way, consciousness goes beyond conceptual dualism.” – says one of the main characters in the novel.
I planned to move to Paris in March 2020. Coronavirus, this nicely named virus, thwarted my plans, at least it delayed them for a while.
I had to spend my lockdown time in Bucharest, longing to see my Parisian lover. Being forced to wait, I did what I usually do; I wrote and documented the experience.
This diary is about our online love, happening while the world fights the virus. You’ll find a few interesting culinary recipes, some thoughts about the ongoing situation, a story that happened in Egypt a few years ago, and a wise Arab telling me about the eagles.
The quarantine is not yet over, but it was a useful time to reorganize our thoughts and habits. I hope this lockdown was useful for you too.
I love globalization, I love the fact that we can see each other no matter where we live in the world, that we can love, despise, befriend, hate each other, that we can exchange information. I love interracial, international, inter-religious meetings. 300 years in the future, when we will understand and accept our cultural differences, we will live happily together. Until then, I do not want to forget that we are contemporaneous only once in history, we have not met in the past, we will not meet in the future, at least not in this form. A minor, yet a major benefit of globalization is that we can sometimes indulge in a delicious Tibetan Momo. How could we have tasted all kinds of culinary recipes if people hadn’t wandered around the world and everyone would have remained home?
As culinary performances, the dishes from around the world have reached the same level of perfection. If our mentalities will reach a level as sophisticated as the dishes and they will become uniform, even if they keep their specificity, we will have a little heaven around here.
The sixth day of lockdown was a relaxed one. My Parisian boyfriend and I did almost nothing; we just sat on our couches and had video calls. None of us got dressed; however, I put on makeup and made him laugh about it because he said that he liked my quarantine lipstick. He felt good about himself that he still took showers and sometimes combed his long hair. Well, without lipstick, I cannot accept video calls.
At some point, we got really hungry and he came with the idea of cooking something and have dinner together, online, of course. He chose the menu. He searched the internet and found the Tibetan Momo, a kind of exotic dumpling in Tibet, half-moon in shape that can be cooked in various ways including steamed, fried, and boiled. Momo usually dips in special sauce, made of tomato sauce and mustard. Fried Momo dipped with this sauce fantastically tastes like the flavor of curry.
His choice pleased me as I love Tibetan culture since I have written my first book ”The Training of Joy” in which I have a Tibetan character. He told me that he chose the Tibetan Momo on purpose, to please me. Even though I gave him my book a few months ago, he hasn’t read it until this lockdown. I thought he would never read it, but on his first day of self-isolation, when he started to clean his house like everyone else, I made a little joke. I said to him that it was time to clean even the windows and for that purpose, he might use a book he had in the house. He could soak it in water and clean the windows. At least, that book came in handy after all. So, he read it, he liked it and now he wanted to please me choosing a Tibetan dish for today’s dinner.
Luckily, my parents have a huge kitchen. I went downstairs, in their kitchen, and spread all over it the ingredients for Momo. Because neither of us didn’t have yak meat on our disposal, we declared ourselves satisfied with minced pork meat and beef. You can also use chicken or mutton meat if you have any.
Firstly, we prepared the dough. That part seemed easy to me and surprisingly, I made it at the same time as my Parisian lover. We used all-purpose flour, a touch of salt, and water. We mixed by hand about 2 cups of wheat flour and blended it with between 3/4 cups and 1 cup of water until we made a pretty smooth ball of dough. Then, we knead the dough very well until the dough became flexible. We left it in the pot with one piece of wet cloth on it while we prepared the rest of the ingredients because we shouldn’t let the dough dry out, otherwise, it would have been hard to work with it later.
The next task seemed difficult for me. Firstly because I had to be careful and put all the ingredients in the mixture. We both had pork and beef mixture. We added two onions, two cloves of garlic, a bunch of cilantro, one pound of cabbage, one-quarter pound of dark brown mushrooms, two tablespoons of soy sauce, one teaspoon of vegetable bouillon. You can also use chicken or beef bouillon.
He chopped the meat with gingers and garlic and said that this would bring a better sense of flavor. I had no ginger at my hands. In the end, we added two rough eggs in the filling, which I noticed later that that dramatically enhanced the mouthfeel.
We put all the ingredients in a big bowl, added a little soybean sauce, and mix them thoroughly until every ingredient was mixing together very well.
The moment of making the Momo came. On a chopping board, we used a rolling pin to roll it out. For me, who chose to steam the Momo, it was a bit easier because I didn’t have to roll it too thin. He chose to fry the Momo, but he’s a skillful cook so, it was no problem for him to roll the dough thinner or thicker.
Then, we need to cut it into little round pieces for each Momo. We used a small cup upside down and cut the dough in circles about the size of the palm of the hand and we began to shape the Momos. We chose the half-moon shape because it stands for a more decent Tibetan style. We hold the flat circular dough in one hand and put a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough, then, fold the circle of dough in half, covered over the filling and pressed together with the two edges of the half-circle so that there was no open edge in the half circle, ensuring the filling was completely enclosed in the dough.
For my steamed Momo, I oiled the bottom of the steamer basket well and arranged the Momos there without touching. I let it cook for 20-25 minutes in the steamer.
For the fried Momo, you need to heat rape oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Once the oil heats up, you should place some Momos in the pan, trying to move them apart enough so that to prevent them from sticking together. Fry the Momos for 2-3 minutes until the dough turns into light brown. Add 50 milliliters of water to the pan and heat it over high heat. Cover the pan and leave it like that until the water evaporates completely. Then, open the pan and turn the heat back to medium. Add some oil to the pan and fry them until they are crispy with golden brown bottoms. Once the Momos are cooked, you should place them on a plate with a paper towel on it to absorb the excess oil.
Our evening ended in a very satisfying way, eating, having a glass of red wine, and telling funny stories after we got a little tipsy. I don’t know if my Momo tasted the same as his. I can bet his Momo was tastier; however, cooking something more complicated for the first time in my life, I felt proud of myself. Love is a funny thing. It always manages to make us do things that we normally wouldn’t do. For this reason, I adore love and this feeling makes me think about the best line I ever heard. I heard it in my favorite movie, “Interstellar”, where the leading female character says: “Love is that force of the Universe which people haven’t fully understood yet.” We haven’t fully understood this feeling, I’m certain about it. I only know that every time I loved someone, I evolved because I wanted to look better than I am in the eyes of the one I loved.
A conformist actor, who wants a traditional family, a drunkard and misogynist flight instructor, and a wise air traffic controller are the three men in Sandra’s life. She loves them all in different ways.
When the actor, her husband, wants to divorce, Sandra feels devastated and tries to convince him to stay married. However, he is jealous of the flight instructor and Sandra’s new passion, the flying. At the same time, he is also in love with a young actress.
The flight instructor, a charming, intelligent, and adventurous man proves to be a drunkard and an incurable misogynist.
Three dramatic deaths and a painful divorce, leaves Sandra in confusion, unable to cope with the events that happen too fast in her life.
A third man appears, an air traffic controller from Zürich, who catches Sandra’s attention telling her that she lacks the training of the mental states of well-being and a new love story begins. While she attempts to attune to her entire existence, to understand her attachments and possessiveness, and to start training her joyfulness, she slowly realizes that she is just a mirror, changing every time she is in a relationship with a man, to please her partner. First, she was an actress, then, she changes her path and tries to become an airline pilot. However, when the air traffic controller enters her life, she follows his calling, a calling that seems to come from beyond the world.
Many dramatic moments, a few touching love scenes, and a journey into a parallel world will keep the reader in a roller coaster of emotions, being able to dive into Sandra’s inner world and experience the intimacy of a passionate woman who knows how to love. At the same time, the reader will witness the mental process of a person whose mind conflicts with her feelings.
“Everything you see, everything you think about, is it an immediate, tangible reality? Tell me, if you do not turn around to 180 degrees, does the world behind you exist?”